Oral Piercings and Oral Health: What You Need to Know
Types of Oral Piercings
In general, oral piercings are any piercings that involve the mouth. These piercings can be done through the:
• Gums: Frenulum
Tongue piercings are the more common oral piercings today. You may not think of lip piercings as an oral piercing, but yes, since it goes straight into the mouth from the outside of the lip. A gum piercing goes through the upper or lower frenulum. This is the soft tissue flap over the top front and lower front gums. A cheek piercing, like a lip piercing, goes straight into the mouth from the outside of the cheek. A uvula piercing goes through the soft palate between the tonsils in the back of the throat.
How Oral Piercings Affect Oral Health
Oral piercings affect oral health in more than one way. The side effects of oral piercings include:
• Tooth sensitivity
• Damaged teeth
• Chewing and swallowing difficulty
• Trouble with dental x-rays
One of the most serious side effects of oral piercings are the risk of infection, which can be serious. The human mouth has millions of harmful bacteria on the surface. Even with antiseptics and sterilization, the risk of infection still rests around 20%. The bacteria can invade the freshly pierced skin, or a cut if present, causing inflammation, redness, and pain. An infection can be treated with antibiotics but can turn deadly in a short amount of time if it's not properly treated. The Upper Club Dental Centre in Ottawa treats this kind of oral problem.
Tooth Sensitivity and Damaged Teeth
Tooth sensitivity and damaged teeth occur from jewelry that hits the teeth. This occurs most commonly with tongue piercings. It's easy to play with the jewelry in the mouth, clicking your teeth. The clicking of the jewelry on your teeth causes the enamel to wear away over time, causing sensitive teeth. This can also lead to weakened teeth and could result in breakage. If a broken tooth isn't treated, it can result in cavities that require fillings, root canals, and ultimately extraction.
Chewing and Swallowing
Chewing and swallowing are harder with certain oral piercings. Any object in the mouth can cause normal functions to not work correctly. This can result in loss of appetite and even choking because food isn't chewed properly. If the jewelry is loose, it can also cause choking from swallowing the bead.
Trouble with Dental X-Rays
Dental x-rays are essential in the diagnosis and treatment of oral problems. Any jewelry made out of metal can make it difficult to follow through with any type of x-ray, including dental x-rays. While removing the jewelry is essential to follow the correct procedure for an x-ray, some jewelry can't be removed without the piercing closing. This can discourage people from getting proper treatment.
Other Oral Health Problems
While infection is the largest risk of oral piercings, there are other oral health issues to consider. Oral piercings can also lead to TMJ disorders from constant moving and clicking. The temporomandibular joint is on both sides of the jaw. Any dysfunction in this area can lead to bothersome symptoms like:
• Pain and tenderness in jaw
• Painful chewing
• Locking of the jaw
• Facial aching
Is it Worth the Risk?
An oral piercing is a personal choice. However, if you choose to maintain one, you must be extra careful in taking care of any problems that can arise. Infection can arise quickly in a healing piercing, but daily care is also required after the piercing is healed. It is important to rinse anytime after you eat with an oral piercing to rinse away the bacteria.
While the risk of infection remains high, developing tooth sensitivity, damaging your teeth and developing TMJ disorders are also prevalent. At Upper Hunt Club Dental Centre, we can treat any problems associated with oral piercings that arise. Contact us today to book an appointment.